Oscar Nominees and Their Guests Apparently Count as “Essential Workers”

The Academy announced that nominees can get essential workers' waivers to attend the ceremony

Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
Oscars statuettes on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California.
A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the grit and determination of essential workers — healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store employees, delivery drivers — tasked with putting their lives on the line to keep this country running. And now we can add another group to the list of heroes working hard for our benefit: the celebrities who will bravely don formalwear and receive trophies at this year’s Oscars. As Variety reports, on Tuesday the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent a letter to nominees announcing that they and their guests will qualify as essential workers in order to attend the event in-person.

“Those involved in the Oscars production, like nominees and their guest, qualify for the essential work purpose waiver, and therefore are permitted to travel to and from the testing center, rehearsals, and Academy-organized activities during the lead up to the Oscars production, including, of course, the award show,” the letter reads. “The organizers of the Oscars are implementing a required quarantine to capture the risk of each person attending the event.”

The letter also outlined how long those traveling to Los Angeles for the event will need to quarantine beforehand.

“If you travel into Los Angeles County from outside of California, you need to self-quarantine for 10 days after you arrive and may not interact with anyone during those 10 days except the people in your household, i.e. people with whom you live,” it explains. “If you travel into Los Angeles County solely for essential work purposes, you still need to self-quarantine (when not working) for 10 days and may not interact with people other than those necessary to conduct your essential work.”

This is all, of course, part of the Oscars’ very dumb plan to get nominees to attend in-person rather than accepting their awards via Zoom. While we can’t blame them for trying their hardest to avoid a ratings disaster like this year’s pre-taped, Zoom-only Screen Actors Guild Awards (which drew significantly less than a million viewers), the Academy has to understand that the optics of using whatever loopholes they can to classify a bunch of millionaire entertainers looking to pat each other on the back as “essential” are not great.

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